Finally, a breather. Finally, a win streak. Finally, we’ve reached the second half of the season and the portion of the schedule that Irish fans had hoped to get to with at least a 4-2 mark. Unfortunately, fake field goals in OT and obscure injuries to the quarterback can not be accounted for, thus, Notre Dame stands at 3-3 instead of 5-1 with BCS dreams alive and well. I predicted a final record of 9-3 in the preseason and still stand by my prediction, despite the unlucky 1-3 start. There is no doubt that the Irish can reel off 8 straight wins to close the season when looking at their remaining opponents. They will be favored in every game except for the last one at USC, which should be extremely close considering what happened in last year’s matchup. Notre Dame has finally closed the gap with the Trojans and it’s only a matter of time before they finally break “the streak”.
Not all the news is good news in Irish land this week. Brian Kelly informed the media on Wednesday that All American TE Kyle Rudolph will be lost for the remainder of the season. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound junior tight end needs surgery after severely injuring his hamstring and his recovery could take six months. Rudolph has not been the same over the past 3 games, clearly bothered by a hamstring injury that has been an issue since the preseason. Rudolph was projected by many NFL draft analysts to turn pro after this season and there is no indication yet how this injury will affect his decision. Kelly also announced that leading rusher Armando Allen will be a game time decision due to a hip flexor that has kept him out of practice all week.
Despite the injuries to two key players on offense, the Irish are a 24 point favorite over the Broncos, which makes sense considering they lost at MSU by 24 earlier this season. Notre Dame should have no problem scoring against Western Michigan’s 80th ranked defense; however, the Broncos 23rd ranked passing offense should be able to move the ball as well against an average Irish secondary. I’m predicting a breakout game from Cierre Wood this week as Brian Kelly will most likely choose to rest Armando Allen in order to get him as healthy as possible for the game against Navy next weekend. Also look for a big day from Theo Riddick as Dayne Crist will be searching for a new safety valve due to the loss of Rudolph. My prediction: Notre Dame 38, Western Michigan 14.
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Written by Tim Lewis